Monday, May 31, 2010

Healthy Soup and a Little Sweet Tooth Satisfaction As Well


I have added some things back into my diet, like meat and a little sugar. But I'm really trying to not go back to my cake loving ways. Also, after my prolonged gluten detox I got the point that my body was happy to get rid of it so I'm now living life gluten free!

And you probably won't thank me for mentioning this but after I ate soup and Caesar salad for lunch a couple of days ago, both filled with dairy, I found myself very digestionally sorry about that choice of lunch so no dairy either...

Anyway, I have found some good recipes and healthy options for meals. Here's my lunch today...

This soup I made last night. A friend showed me how using pumpkin puree in soup makes it really filling, which when I'm cooking for my husband especially, is a good thing.

Chicken Veggie Quinoa Pumpkin Soup

(Keep in mind I make a big pot for a big family. I'm sure you can cut this in half as well as make it a vegetarian recipe by cutting out the chicken and using veggie broth instead.)

8 cups chicken broth
1 chopped onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1 cup chopped carrots
2 medium sized zucchini's cut into small chunks
2 cans diced tomatoes
8 oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup of cooked Quinoa (I guess you could cook it in the soup, but I cooked it separately)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp of coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp oregano
Mrs. Dash if it's not flavorful enough

Saute all vegetables and chicken. Put in a big pot with diced tomatoes, pumpkin and spices. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Add quinua and serve.

If you're wondering what exactly quinoa is, it's similar to a rice grain but according to the bag (purchased at Costco) and wikipedia, it's a complete protein with a high content of amino acids as well, easy to digest, gluten free and actually closer to a seed than a grain.

I've used it as a side like rice, in a salad similar to tubulie and in soups. Again if you're a vegetarian it will make the soup a complete meal even without the chicken.

And onto my sweet tooth satisfaction. My smoothie is organic frozen strawberries, almond milk, yogurt (the one dairy product I seem to be able to digest), honey and vanilla. Mmmmmmmmm....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Amazing Night of Worship

I think I'm a little obsessive about things..... I don't have the compulsiveness at all, but obsessive...I think yes.

I've mentioned stalking people and that's what I'm talking about here.

So, ever since I found John Mark McMillan, I've been checking his blog, facebook, website, etc. for news of him and his band making an appearance in the Northwest.

And he did. Friday night we went to see him at a church in downtown Seattle and it was soooo amazing. Like, I was brought to tears several times, especially when the whole audience sang together to his most popular song "How He Loves Us". It was powerful!

And we've been talking about it and pondering the power of music ever since.

....because there is something mysterious about the power of music. Yes, I know worship can take so many different forms and shouldn't be put be put into a box of singing and music, blah blah blah.... (sorry I've just heard that a few too many times)

....but there is something about the notes, the coming together of melody and harmony, that is as my husband put it, magical...yep he seriously used that word. We couldn't think of any other way to describe it.

One of our first dates was to see Jeremy Enigk, who was best known for being the front person for Sunny Day Real Estate (I think they're known as being the pioneer emo band) and had a sort of short lived other band called The Fire Theft. So, there we were packed into this little hole in the wall venue and as we listened to the music, I remember feeling so close to Bill and knowing right then that I loved him, truly loved him and he truly loved me. I think that was the night I knew we'd get married. I don't remember exactly what made me think that because we were just sitting together, holding hands and listening to the band...but it was then that I knew.

So, lately we've had a difficult time coming together. We're just so busy and it's been a fight to have us time instead of each of us just making sure to have me time and his I making sense? (I'm really tired)

But at the show on Friday there was one point in this gorgeous song where the lyrics went something like this....

"And she says 'Whoa-oh I have overcome, whoa-oh I have overcome the world, by the song and the blood of the Son.'"

I was leaning against Bill, crying as we all sang together that line over and over. Bill took my hand in his and we raised our hands together in worship.

And I knew God was giving us that moment together as a glimpse of what he's doing in our marriage and in us. A glimpse of purity, oneness and a love that encompasses that.

Oh and I can't leave out telling you about meeting Mr. John Mark himself. I just had to plow down a couple of people and went up to him, dragging my poor husband behind me. I just stuck out my hand and said "Hi, I'm Jewel!" (picture big happy grin on my face.) "What an awesome show...thanks for coming to Seattle". Then I introduced Bill and we went on to tell him about how my brother in law looks like his bass player's twin....

But...I forgot to have someone take a picture of us. I was in the car kicking myself and going back and forth between going back to tell him that I NEED a picture for my blog and him thinking I'm a stalking freak. I ran out of time thinking about it and our friends drove off...

Oh well. But I should mention I stole the above picture from his facebook page and it's not in Seattle. My husband took a couple of pictures on his phone but they were all of the guy who looks like my brother in law...sheesh!

What do you think of music being "magical"? Have you ever experienced that?

Friday, May 28, 2010


That's me breathing a deep breath of no stress....

Except I do actually have a lot of it...but I'm just not feeling it. I'm choosing to breathe today instead.

I'm going to write soon about our lovely women's retreat and all sorts of other fun stuff that's been happening around here.

But my house is messy and I feel the need to keep to my priorities today of taking care of my home first and then "playing" with all of you;)

In the meantime, please keep praying for Adam and their family. He is still in a coma and Amy is faithfully updating her blog. Grab a box of kleenex and read through the whole month's worth of posts. I feel like I'm watching a love story unfold...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Off Again

First of all keep praying for my friend Amy and her husband who's in a coma after a motorcross accident. She's updating her blog daily now and seriously I can't get through a post with tears in my eyes! Go visit Ramblings of a Root to join people in prayer and see the story unfold.

* * *

And yep, I'm off again...

Well, tomorrow, but as it approaches I'm really feeling the hours counting down quickly.

Hours to do loads of laundry.

Hours to finish writing my talk for Saturday night.

Hours to grocery shop, pack, clean, you get the idea.

Not enough hours....

I am getting excited about my talk though....and nervous. I know that if you've read my blog for awhile you would think I did this a lot but if you know me in real life you would know that I'm actually pretty quiet and have a hard time even speaking up about things in a group.

It is definitely one of those things that just gets better with practice though. I don't visibly shake least I don't think I do.

Anyway, the theme this weekend is "For Such A Time As This" and we're using the book of Esther to show women the process of preparation, positioning and purpose. Although the three people speaking will probably talk about all of those things we're each supposed to focus on one aspect and mine is purpose.

That might sound kind of easy since all I would have to do is find my old copy of "The Purpose Driven Life" and quote random chapters, but I like to complicate things:)

I don't even remember the Purpose Driven Life but I do remember the first line...."It's not about you..." I know what the author was getting at. That we should stop figuring out our purpose with our self-centered ideas and focus on God since our lives were His plan.

But I think our purpose is somewhat about us. It's about us being reflections of the gospel of grace, or in other words our purpose is about us reflecting Jesus. That's such a simple message but one I think we take forgranted. We (I) tend to over complicate life, over intellectualize God, or just forget about it.

But when I was thinking and praying about what to share this weekend I just kept coming back to the simple message of the gospel.

My friend and I were talking and despite the fact that I'm going to be talking this weekend about love, Jesus, etc. I was kind of going off about a particular mother who has a boy in Emma's class. The mom drinks all day and I was saying how it is so sad that her son is not properly cared for.

My friend told me the story of this woman who grew up in an environment filled with drugs and abuse and then chose that for her own life as well. God brought her to a Christian organization because she was homeless and had been kicked out of the local women's shelter. Well, it's been three years and she's off the streets and graduating from the community college as a certified drug and alcohol dependency counselor. She said of the organization "They loved me until I loved myself".

Wow, that could totally be the mom I was criticizing!

And God totally did that for us!

So, a part of reflecting the gospel is remembering how exactly God loved us until we loved ourselves, or if we aren't there yet (c'mon none of us are completely there) surrendering to that process and surrendering to His love. And then we're supposed to do that for others.

Simple but hard right?

Well, I've also been learning about the fruits of the spirit and the thing about fruit is that the tree doesn't put forth effort to grow it. An apple tree produces apples because it's an apple tree. That's it...

The first fruit of the spirit is love and if we're filled with God like we're supposed to be as His children, love is going to be produced in our lives without effort.

So, that's along the lines of what I'm going to share this weekend. I get to go last so I can also add in a bunch of stuff, repeating and reiterating what the other two speakers said so that's taking a lot of my stress away about this.

If I don't get the chance to write tomorrow, be praying for me please. And have a good weekend!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Please Pray!

My friend Amy's husband was in an accident on a dirt bike track on Saturday. She now has the story on her blog. Please stop by Ramblings From a Root and pray for Adam's healing and peace and comfort the Amy, her daughter Mackenzie and the rest of their family.

Thank you!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

All Or Nothing I Say...

I've avoided telling you this but I'm afraid I have to spill it so bear with me and try not to roll your eyes.

I'm on the extreme eating plan once again, otherwise known as a Daniel Fast. Fruits, veggies, rice and beans is all I'm eating. I've cut sugar, gluten and dairy and well, quite frankly, I'm miserable!

I must be going through withdrawals or something and I don't even know which thing I cut out is to blame. I think maybe gluten because last time I did this I still ate whole wheat flour.

I'm moody!
My throat hurts!
I'm feeling super bloated...
I'm moody...
My body aches...
My restless leg syndrome has returned (?)

But I'm on day 4 and in a couple more days I should be feeling great! And hey, I am obviously an all or nothing girl, along with my all or nothing husband so this is what we gotta do.

You may be wondering what is it about this particular diet/fast that keeps me coming back again and again. Well, when I was talking to my mom about it a couple of days ago the reason came to me.

While I was growing up our diet consisted mostly of beans, lentils, veggies, rice, soups and well that's about it.

Every once in awhile we'd complain...probably when it was lentil night...and my mom would tell us the story of Daniel and his friends and how they refused to eat the Kings rich food and instead ate "pulse" (beans and veggies) and when it came time to test the men, Daniel and his friends were found to be stronger and smarter than the men who had eaten the Kings food.

The story was told so many times that it just stuck I guess.

I didn't realize that another reason we ate that way was because we were pretty darn poor and that's what we could afford.

Until when I was about eleven years old I went to a friend's house for dinner. This friend's mother knew what my mom served at our house and she made it a point to serve my brother and me steak for dinner. She informed me that steak was "real food" and I should go home and tell my mom how much I enjoyed it. Then she went on to yell at her children for accidentally tapping their forks on their plate.

Yeah, to this day I'm not a big fan of steak.

And sometimes I'm scared if my silverware clinks on the dish.

Stay tuned for some yummy vegan recipes....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pink With More Freckles

That's what I become during summer. No tanning for me. This girl's Irish skin is meant for rainy weather I guess:)

My friend Dejah came over today and we had such a lovely afternoon sitting outside, sipping coffee, laughing together, crying a little, sharing our experiences, thoughts and hearts with each other.

And now I'm smelling of aloe-vera because my arms are completely pink!

Some conversations are just worth a little sun-burn...

(Wow, dermatologists would love me for saying that!)

One of the things we discovered was that, in coincidence, we are both stalking the musician/songwriter John Mark McMillan. He wrote the song "How He Loves Us" and from his facebook, website and blog, not to mention his music, he seems like such an interesting guy. I'm not saying we're gonna drive by his house or anything....well if he only lived in Seattle we might. But pretty soon he's coming to the Northwest and we're gonna be there!

I know I might sound a little ridiculous being a married woman, but do you read the Twilight books? Then you have nothing to say to me;-P

Here is a little documentary about the song. I realize that I've added music to my blog so you'll have to scroll down and press pause on my playlist.

Now I'm going to go and tend to my disturbingly warm skin

P.S. The single for "How He Loves Us" is available at itunes

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flip Flops & Painted Toes

We had a great Mothers Day yesterday. We went to the beach, ate, sat on blankets and watched the water, hiked barefoot through the woods with the little ones and spent quality time with the family. I was so relaxed I forgot to take pictures!

My mom and dad and brothers came so it was good to spend time with all of them.

With the nice weather this week while at Old Navy I bought everyone their first pair of flip-flops and even before we went to the beach I was noticing everyone (me included) was in dire need of a pedicure.

So, this morning I got out my stuff.

I soaked each child's feet, used a sugar scrub, soaked them again because they were really filthy, patted their toes with tea tree oil, massaged with mango lotion and polished in the color of their choosing (okay Brayden didn't get to choose). It was so much fun.

Sometimes it makes my day to do a little something extra for my sweet little tornadoes;)

And I didn't say Brayden didn't get his painted. I just said he didn't get to choose to the color. Here he is again showing off his "manly black" toe nails;)

Did you have a lovely mothers day?

Friday, May 7, 2010

For All The Other Mothers

It is absolutely beautiful outside right now and I don't want to be a downer in any way, but I've got some things on my mind.

Mothers Day is honestly sort of bittersweet and this afternoon my girls were reminding me why, so after I spent some time in my room with God (lots of tears as usual) when I still didn't feel complete release I thought it better to tell someone else. So, lucky you;)

For me Mothers Day is bittersweet because our daughter, Ahzryia, goes to spend it with her real mom. On this day I'm reminded that I'm just the step-mom and honestly I don't really like that role. When we go have fun at the beach or wherever we end up, it will feel like someone is missing and that will be on my mind the whole day. Then when I look at the pictures later or post them on here I'll be reminded again and feel sad all over.

I've heard that the pain of childbirth reoccurs again and again throughout the life of each child. Have you ever heard that? It's so true. Because every time they break away from you or say something that reminds you that they're really not yours it hurts like birth over again. Actually (I hope I'm not going too far into melodrama here) it's worse. Because the pain is not physical and something you can clench your teeth and bear through. It's cutting through your heart, the core of who you are as a mom! And I don't believe you had to physically give birth to the child to feel this pain.

So, on to my positive conclusion (are you still reading?)...

Do you see that lovely bouquet of roses at the top? They remind me of the roses that the greeters hand out at the church doors on mothers day. Well, if you can relate to what I said then those flowers are for you.

They are for you if you've lamented that there are seriously NO positive examples of step-mothers out there. (Oh wait the movie "Step-mom"...but still, only one???)

They are for you if you've understood why there's no positive ones out there after you've reacted badly and are feeling like a total failure once again because of it.

They are for you if even though you've raised the child, cared, cooked, cleaned, worried about and loved the child, you've never felt truly appreciated and think that possibly you never will.

They are for you for holding back on all the things you could say about the real mother.

They are for you if you've had difficulty loving the child after feeling rejected yourself.

And onto another topic because this has me thinking of other mothers who aren't step-moms but also might see the holiday as bittersweet.

They are for my best friend, who was seriously born to be a mother! She is going to be an amazing mom. But her and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for 7 years. I wonder if she goes to church on Mothers Day.

In fact if you consider yourself an "Other Mother" somehow and this holiday devoted to "real mothers" is either bittersweet or your least favorite holiday, then these roses are for you.

I have to rest now in knowing that God has things figured out. Also He knows the pain of wanting and he knows the pain of rejection.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thoughts On Prayer

Since it's the National Day of Prayer I thought I'd share one of my favorites, The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. We sing this song during worship. It's beautiful.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Oh, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

How could he write such a beautiful prayer? Actually according to wikipedia (my 11 year old daughter scolds me for it not being a reliable source) we aren't sure if St. Francis wrote it or if it was written by others in "the spirit of St. Francis". I like to think he wrote it as he was living his communal life and walking through fields of tall grass with butterflies landing on his hands (Have you seen Brother Sun Sister Moon?).

When I was little, the sky and mountains were my cathedral and the wind and birds were the orchestra. It never occurred to me that my Father wasn't listening.

It wasn't until I was older and sitting in a church building that I felt like my words were going no further than the roof. Time and experiences I'm sure were to blame, not the building itself, but still, it makes me wonder...

I learned to pray in nature so why do I stay shut up in my closet now? Or save my words for Sunday morning?

I'm not sure if this relates to prayer but I read this yesterday and it really struck me how God looks at His children as a loving father. It seriously put tears in my eyes.

Hosea 11: God’s Continuing Love for Israel
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.
“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.
“He shall not return to the land of Egypt;
But the Assyrian shall be his king,
Because they refused to repent.
And the sword shall slash in his cities,
Devour his districts,
And consume them,
Because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most High,
None at all exalt Him.
"How can I give you up, Ephraim?"
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror.
“They shall walk after the LORD.
He will roar like a lion.
When He roars,
Then His sons shall come trembling from the west;
They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,
Like a dove from the land of Assyria.
And I will let them dwell in their houses,”
Says the LORD.

* * *

I used to have a problem waking up at 4:30 - 5:00 am and then laying there with a restless mind for up to an hour. Then I'd fall back to sleep moments before I needed to be up and my whole morning would be spent dragging myself. Now I have my clock radio set to go off at 5:00 am every morning. Focus on the Family comes on then so when my mind would otherwise be fully rested and awake and ready to roll, it gets distracted back to sleep by the talk and this routine actually helps me get up when I need to at 6:30 am. Hey, it works for me.

So yesterday and today they've had whole shows of prayers. The feeling is sort of surreal to wake up and fall back to sleep to the sound of different people's praying voices. Really peaceful.

Do you ever have the feeling your prayers are not heard? Do you ever go somewhere outdoors to pray?

Monday, May 3, 2010

It Feels Like The End Of An Era...

Actually I just finished my diary. I am an avid journaler and feel like it's an essential aspect of my emotional, mental and spiritual health, not to mention it really helps because of my horrible memory, and as I got down to the last few pages in my diary my entries started to look like this...(these one liners are whole entries)

February 23rd: "I hate not fitting in."

March 1st: "I am so frustrated!"

March 3rd: "I guess I'm having a difficult time finishing entries lately..."

I think I was feeling like for what would probably be my last entry I should write something big. Some big "aha" moment and nothing was coming to mind. I definitely didn't want to end it on a negative note...

I do think that someday my daughters might enjoy reading my journals and although I write freely for the most part, keeping that in mind helps me try to see the good in things that I write and not to dwell too long on negative emotions...which is a good thing!

Anyway, I'll share most of my last entry with you mostly because it tells the whole story of the retreat and I wrote it when everything was fresh in my mind. Here you go...

April 25th: The Lord brought me to a womens retreat this last weekend. I actually just walked in the door. So now I have something big to write;) And sort of conclusive I suppose...

I left on Friday morning feeling fragmented, with heavy burdens and heavy eyes sooo wanting to cry.

Actually something happened on the way over there and my left eye started bothering me and watering terribly. By that evening I had to remove my contact but left the other one in so I could at least see. Seeing clearly out of one eye is first of all frustrating, but during the night session of worship and sharing I started to feel light headed and my ears started ringing. By the
time it ended and everyone got up to go have dessert I felt like I was going to pass out.

I took the other contact out and laid down to calm my heart which was racing by this point. When I felt like I could stand I went up to bed, blind and frustrated. I felt like some amazing things were shared, heart wrenching things as well, and I had not been fully there for those women! I felt like I was under the enemy's attack or something!

Hmmm...I do believe that nothing can touch me and God's children that's not ordained by Himself and also He works everything for the good according to His purposes.

I heard the stories that I needed to hear. The rest was tuned out by my distractedness...

The next day I was able to put my contacts in and I spent time with a few of the ladies but enjoyed getting to know one in particular. Her name was Lynn. We had some similar circumstances in our lives that it gave us the opportunity to connect on a much needed deeper level.

One of the things that we got to talking about was how each of us were once single moms and how we would take our children places. She said how she didn't let not having a husband stop her from taking her son on trips to Disneyland, the zoo and other family oriented places.
We also agreed that we always were looking for a husband to fill the empty spot on our adventure. The spot that we tried hard to mask for our little ones.

Lynn said "If we, looking in hindsight, can see how perfect things were, why don't we realize that about how things are now?" Wow! That penetrated my heart to the core and I started to cry and told her that was exactly what I needed to get out of the whole retreat. We both cried more and talked more, opening up in a way only God could plan for me.

I felt light seep into the cracks and crevices of my soul and suddenly my eyes didn't feel so heavy and the urge to cry disappeared.

The evening session was good and I was able to share some things that were on my heart about grace and the healing that I've experienced in my life over the last couple of years. I shared the verse about God's grace being sufficient and His power being made perfect in weakness.

The evening was so sweet.

This morning I woke up and while I got ready in the bathroom I thought of everything shared during the weekend. It was pretty amazing because what I did hear on Friday were things that I remember about my own past. God wanted me to be ministered to and just spend some time receiving the beautiful view from the mountaintop so to speak. He has carried me far.

I love the verse in Isaiah 43 about going through water but not being overcome, going through the fire but not being burned. He paid for my ransom because He loves me.

The thought is overwhelming.

Also with the older women there I see that He's not done with me yet. That there's hope and a future and the things we're walking through right now (the perfect things because they are part of God's plan) are going to eventually end but I can choose to have joy right now....and peace.

I'm feeling very full of love and grace at the moment and my prayer is that it spills out and positively affects the lives around me.

I'm looking back and I've been writing in this journal for three years now. In some ways I feel like I've taken some steps forward and some steps back but I rest knowing that God has me in His hands.

So there you go:) Sorry that some of that was repeated.

Oh and this is kind of strange. I for one don't believe in coincidences and realize I probably drive people crazy coming up with themes and theories but get this...when my eyes were having problems it just seemed so weird and I kept asking God what was going on. I kept thinking of Paul being blinded on the road to Damascus. That's about all the information I can give you about that because I haven't read that story for awhile, but the thought was there nevertheless.

Then I got home and my kids had gone to church with my mom that morning. They showed me these colorfully scribbled paper plate masks and my mom told me they were learning about Paul being blinded on the road to Damascus! They had holes cut out for the eyes and they covered them up to see what it would be like to be blind! Isn't that weird?! I don't know what that means but like I said I don't believe in coincidences;)

Now I need to go search for a new journal!


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